Leonard Washington had 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead Wyoming to a 78-75 win over North Dakota State in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational presented by Zebra Pen before a crowd of 2,732 at the Arena-Auditorium on Wednesday, March 14.
Bismarck, N.D., product Luke Martinez had nine points and 10 rebounds for Wyoming (21-11) and made two free throws with two seconds left for the final margin. NDSU's TrayVonn Wright missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime.
Wright had a team-high 15 points including three 3-pointers, Marshall Bjorklund scored 14 points, Taylor Braun had 13 points, Lawrence Alexander scored 12 and Mike Felt added 10 points off the bench for North Dakota State (17-14).
Wyoming outscored NDSU 29-14 at the free throw line. The Cowboys were 29 of 41 at the stripe and the Bison were 14 of 22.
Alexander and Braun had seven rebounds each to lead the Bison, but Wyoming had a 34-28 advantage in total rebounds.
NDSU led by as many as four points late in the first half after going on a 13-2 run while the Cowboys went more than five minutes without a field goal.
It was 37-37 at halftime. Wyoming led by as many as 11 and never trailed in the second half.
The Bison tied it for the last time with 7 1/2 minutes to go. Dylan Hale's steal led to an alley-oop dunk from Joel Lindberg to Wright, and Jordan Aaberg's layup on the next possession to make it 61-61.
Wyoming made 10 of 14 free throws in the final 7:21 of the game. NDSU cut it to one point on a Braun 3-pointer inside the 5:00 mark and again with two seconds left on Hale's triple before Martinez made the final two free throws.
It was the second Division I postseason appearance for North Dakota State since beginning play in 2004-05, and it was the first since the 2009 NCAA tournament.
Wyoming advanced to face Washington State on March 19 in the quarterfinal round of the 16-team CBI. Semifinals are March 21 before the best 2-of-3 championship series March 26-30.